Macleod quote from OFI

This was on OFI last month:

“The whole initiative in reconciliation rests with God. It is an expression of His love: ‘God was reconciling the world to himself.’ But God’s love is not itself reconciliation. Between love and reconciliation there lies the great transaction referred to in 2 Corinthians 5:21: ‘[God] made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.’ There is a staggering amount of theology crammed into these few words. There is the sinlessness of Christ; there is the fact that whatever it was He suffered, God was the ultimate cause of it; and there is the fact that His suffering itself amounted to His being made sin. He bore it. He identified with it. He was treated as it deserved to be treated – bruised for it (Isaiah 53:10), accursed for it (Galatians 3:13) and rejected for it (Mark 15:34).

But how did Christ contract such sin? How did He become vulnerable to its retribution? What right did God have to bruise Him? Because He was for us. That made His condemnation – His expulsion to the Far Country – righteous. But then, beside the for, there is another preposition, in. The for made Him guilty. The in makes us righteous: ‘We are the righteousness of God in Him.’ That is why God is reconciled to us – because we are righteous. That is why God justifies us – declares us righteous: because we are righteous. We have in Christ all the righteousness God can require. We are righteous as Christ himself. Indeed, we are God’s own righteousness – we have kept the covenant as faithfully as God Himself.”

– Donald Macleod, Behold Your God (Fearn, UK: Christian Focus, 1995), 105-106.

He’s right – there’s a ton of theology in that short verse! His unpacking of it looks ok to me – how about you?

The value of legalism

I’ve been reading through Colossians lately, and I was reminded of the precise value of legalism when I read this:

Colossians 2:20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21″Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)–in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. (NAS)

In chapter 2, it appears that Paul is covering both the Mosaic law as well as the addition of rules and regulations by men – but even if he’s only addressing one or the other, we know that it is true of both since legalism of any kind is… so valuable that it can make us stand righteous before a Holy God? Nope… it can’t do that (Eph. 2:8-9, Gal. 3:2, etc., etc.) But if it can’t save us, surely legalism can help us to live better, more Christ-like lives, right? Nope – legalism is “of no value against fleshly indulgence” – no value! So why have I tried so many times over the years to kill sin by my own efforts and not by applying “gospel tools” (as Owen says)? Partly, I think, because I’m such a task-oriented person, who easily sees any problem as a task to be solved. To go along with this natural disposition, I seem to easily forget that this task is not one I can solve! This I have to acknowledge to be due to a lack of appreciation for God’s grace, which is required for both my being declared righteous before God initially, and for my daily sanctification. There is no other way for me to become or live righteously other than by God’s grace, made visible in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

May God grant me the wisdom to discern when I fall into trying to sanctify myself.

A reconciliation hopping on one leg

I’ve been involved in an interesting discussion here on Christ’s choices and choices in general. This post is in reply to Perry’s assertion that “…Christ’s death is a propitiation, a reconciliation, but not as a deferment of wrath. God can freely forgive for mercy triumphs over justice.” I responded to that assertion already – but I just came across this quote from Owen which I just had to post somewhere:

As, then, the folly of Socinus and his sectaries is remarkable, who would have the reconciliation mentioned in the Scripture to be nothing but our conversion to God, without the appeasing of his anger and turning away his wrath from us, — which is a reconciliation hopping on one leg, — so that distinction of some between the reconciliation of God to man, making that to be universal towards all, and the reconciliation of man to God, making that to be only of a small number of those to whom God is reconciled, is a no less monstrous figment. Mutual alienation must have mutual reconciliation, seeing they are correlata. The state between God and man, before the reconciliation made by Christ, was a state of enmity. Man was at enmity with God; we were his “enemies,” Col. i. 21; Rom. v. 10; hating him and opposing ourselves to him, in the highest rebellion, to the utmost of our power. God also was thus far an enemy to us, that his “wrath” was on us, Eph. ii. 3; which remaineth on us until we do believe, John iii. 36. To make perfect reconciliation (which Christ is said in many places to do), it is required, first, That the wrath of God be turned away, his anger removed, and all the effects of enmity on his part towards us; secondly, That we be turned away from our opposition to him, and brought into voluntary obedience. Until both these be effected, reconciliation is not perfected. Now, both these are in the Scripture assigned to our Saviour, as the effects of his death and sacrifice.

John Owen, Death of Death in the Death of Christ, Book 3, Chapter 6.

Usually I’m taken by the force and eloquence of Owen’s writing – I don’t remember him being funny before!